Is Rome A Place For Fido?

  • July 24, 2017

When you think about the Italian city of Rome, the first things that come to mind are probably the incredible ancient sights, followed closely by two evils: crowds and traffic! I’ll bet it’s the last place you would think about bringing your dog on vacation. Funny, because I thought the exact same thing…until we did just that; Rome with our dog.

Despite what you might think about a city being no place for fido… here are 5 reasons why it is totally doable and fun!

  1. Rome is walkable
  2. It is easy to escape the crowds
  3. There is always shade
  4. Water sources are abundant
  5. Romans love dogs
Ava at the Trevi Fountain

1. Rome is walkable!

First and most importantly, Rome is an extremely walkable city. Most of the sights are situated in the city center, dispersed randomly and amazingly in the middle of narrow walking streets or bustling piazzas.

A casual stroll through the city will inevitably lead you to places like the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, or the Spanish Steps! The best part about Rome is that most of the things you want to see are outside; the architecture, the sights, the piazzas, the markets, etc.

This makes it incredibly easy to, you guessed it… bring your dog!

We utilize Rick Steves’ Guide Books almost everywhere we go, and in Rome in particular, we took Ava on the Heart of Rome Walk! 

White border collie dog visiting campo de fiori market in rome, italy
Exploring the Campo de’ Fiori Market

While fido CAN go many places in Rome, there are still places where dogs are not permitted, even with a muzzle. Best to familiarize yourself with these places now so you can better plan your itinerary.

The places where dogs CANNOT enter:

  • The Pantheon This visit is quick, it takes about 10-15 minutes to see inside. (We took turns staying with Ava)
  • The Colosseum and Roman Forum– This visit takes a couple of hours, including the wait time to enter. Be sure to buy your ticket in advance and make your wait time shorter. We opted to do the Colosseum closer to the end of the day. It was less crowded at this time, and after our long stroll around Rome, Ava was content (thankful, actually) to rest in the AirBnB for a few hours.
  • The Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica– Sorry, friends. Unless your dog is a guide dog or certified therapy dog, they are not permitted to visit the Vatican Museums. If you have a therapy dog, you can arrange your pet’s entry by contacting them in advance. We brought Ava to St. Peter’s Square with us, by way of metro! (Yes, dogs are allowed on the metro provided they are muzzled.) We enjoyed people-watching from the shade, as the Museum was closed the day we went.
White Border Collie Dog travels to St. Peter's Square at Vatican City in Rome, Italy
Ava visits St. Peter’s Square

2. It is easy to escape the crowds

There are crowds, especially in the hot spots (Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, etc). Stay in-tune to your dog’s level of stress, and protect them!

People will want to come say hello to your dog. Ava loves this type of interaction, but some dogs do not. Be mindful of your dog’s whereabouts in crowds and ensure they do not get stepped on!

At every sight we managed to find a “calm” corner to relax. At the Trevi Fountain in particular, the bottom right-hand side was much less crowded and quieter. We found seats here and Ava had an undisturbed drink of water. She didn’t toss a coin into the fountain, though, so her future return to Rome is a mystery.

3. There is always shade

Except for “high noon”, which is short-lived, the nature of the architecture in Rome bodes well for finding shade. In Rome, the difference in temperature between the sun and the shade is significant. 

Many walkways also have mature trees that provide shade. For about 6-6.5 hours during the day, we stayed in the shade for most of them! Save your energy, your dog’s energy, and your dog’s paws by staying in the shade. Trust me on this one. 

Pantheon in Rome, Italy
Ava visits the Pantheon

4. Water sources are abundant

I am used to carrying an extra bottle of water in my bag for Ava. (Here’s where that collapsible bowl comes in handy from my previous post The Basics of Traveling With Your Dog.)

However, the most notable thing about our visit to Rome, from a dog mom’s perspective, was the ABUNDANCE of potable water sources. There was a fountain about every two blocks of refreshing, drinkable water!

These fountains were great little “check points” to pull over into the shade, allow everyone (even fido) to hydrate and refill our water bottles. The water fountains are close to the ground, which is PERFECT for wetting your dog’s paws and belly. Talk about walking around Rome refreshed… dogs have it made here!

White border collie dog visits vatican city and swiss guards
Ava and the Swiss Guards at Vatican City

5. Romans love dogs!

Lastly, I cannot say enough how much Romans loved Ava! We heard “Che bella” meaning “How beautiful” more than a few times during our stay.  (I think they were talking about Ava…) She was also welcomed into outdoor and indoor cafes, indoor restaurants, our AirBnB accommodation, and multiple shops.

In the metro station, she was greeted by a kind metro worker, who showed us a picture of his dog, and then allowed us to continue on our way, without a muzzle!

People are friendly, and for the most part, they love dogs! Dogs have always been a conversation starter…the same is true in Italy! If you have any question about whether dogs are permitted, just ask, “il cane é ok?”, meaning “the dog is ok? [to enter]”. Very basic, but it gets the point across! 

Don’t be nervous to take on Rome with fido! With a little bit of planning your trip will be unforgettable. If you have any questions, tips, or experiences to share, please comment below!

Until next time!

White border collie dog at vatican city, rome, italy.
Thanks for sharing!
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